Mira Fornay’s Cook, F**k, Kill is a disquieting look at familial abuse and the ties that bind. As the Pendance organizers mentioned the night the film was screened, not a lot of people would be attracted to such a film. Knowing this, the festival insisted on showing it anyway. After all, their motto is #storyovereverything, and Cook, F**k, Kill certainly fits the bill.
An old-time jukebox falling from a window leads to a sometimes dreamlike-sometimes sharp reenactment of past deeds and events. It’s hard to decipher past from present, reality from wishful thinking, and ultimately a series of Cause and Effect moments. Fornay’s storytelling mechanism is unusual and thus hard to describe. It runs in circles around itself like a dog chasing its tail. Except with each rotation, the plot slightly changes, metamorphoses, and metastasizes. This is one heck of a Groundhog Day. A time loop that sucks the viewer in, piece by piece, incorporating new characters and new variants on old characters as the plot becomes more abstracted.
Protagonist Yaroslav is constantly seen through mirrors and reflective surfaces. The concept of the Double is at play. There are two Yaroslav’s. Or more. There is a deformation of events and truths. Starting with a structured timeline, moments start to occur in stream of consciousness, or perhaps as a series of waking nightmares. Yaroslav’s identity crisis is semi aware that it’s stuck in a time loop. At one point, he announces, If you shoot me now, I’ll be able to come back (again), like hitting a reset button. A story depends on who’s telling it and who’s listening. Who is abusing whom? Who is at fault? Who is the victim? The characters are not so much characters as they are concepts. Conscience. guilt, stupidity, neglect. These ideas are supplemented by an intriguing scene shot in reverse, and pointedly placed drone shots that make the environment seem flattened, abstract, and alien. Throughout, everything has a sense of the Familiar frolicking with the Unfamiliar. Difficult to watch at times, but definitely something that stays with the viewer and creeps under the skin.